The Atlanta City Council voted 13-0 on Feb. 1 to back a plan proposed by Councilman Michael Julian Bond to create a 1 percent sales tax to pay for $287.5 million in public safety improvements, including new police cars, fire trucks and other needs.
But there is no guarantee the tax, which is estimated to raise $100 million a year, will ever go into effect. The next step in the process could kill the idea.
The Republica-controlled state Legislature, which usually frowns upon new taxes, must vote to allow the idea to come before Atlanta voters as a referendum. Even Buckhead’s state Rep. Ed Lindsey has said he has several concerns about the idea—mainly he doesn’t think the legislation is specific enough and the money may be used elsewhere.
Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) said he is worried about the impact an increase in the city’s sales tax rate would have on low-income families.
Then again, Atlanta voters might reject the idea at the ballot box.
But Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is intrigued by the idea. It could free up other city funds to hire more police officers.
Bond would like the tax to go into effect in 2012, when a 1 percent sales tax that goes to the Atlanta public schools ends. That would allow the new tax to replace the old.